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I’ve talked about a lot of different things here at My Wellness Basket – all of which affect your immunity. All of it. But what exactly is immunity? And how do you keep your immune system strong?
If you have immunity it means that you have resistance to infection or disease. If you have low immunity, this means your immune system isn’t as strong as it should or needs to be which means you have greater risk in becoming ill or developing infections.
There’s a lot of factors to how your body response to foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites, allergens, toxins, etc.). If your body seems to consistently respond poorly to these invaders, you really need to address your immune system more directly and with vigor.
The Immune System
Immunity is like having a robust defense system in your body. God gave your body its very own security team to protect you from invaders. These invaders are not burglars or bad guys but tiny microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and other things that can (if you have a weak immune system) make you sick.
Your immune system is AMAZING. It has been designed to recognize the difference between your body’s own cells ( good guys) and invaders ( bad guys). When it identifies something foreign or harmful, it goes into action mode. This means it can neutralize and get rid of it, almost like superheroes defeating villains.
The vast network of cells, tissues, glands and organs are like a group of soldiers working together to fight off bad bacteria (differentiating the bad from the good bacteria the body needs) as well as viruses, parasites, and anything else attempting to invade their turf.
Some of the major ‘troops’ fighting this battle include your lymphatic system (lymph nodes as well as the thymus, spleen, tonsils and adenoids and more), white blood cells and other specialized cells. All of these have a unique special job to help the body fight off the invaders.
A holistic medicine approach looks at immunity as more than just this defense system. Functional medicine and other wholistic medicine approaches knows that your overall health and well-being play a crucial role in how well your immune system works. Here’s how it all connects:
Imagine food as fuel for your body’s defense. Your body’s soldiers need you to eat a balanced diet with healthy proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables all with varied nutrients to give your immune system energy and the tools it needs to fight strong and be effective.
Your defense team also needs sleep, exercise and relaxation and/or stress management. A healthy amount of quality sleep helps the team recover and recharge. Exercise keeps the team fit and ready for action. Reducing stress keeps the team from being overwhelmed and ready to do the job well.
Your digestive system is the headquarters for your immune system. Jump over to my post on Gut Health for 10 easy ways to improve yours! It’s absolutely essential to address gut health if you want a strong immune system!
When you are factoring in everything that affects how strong your immune system is, it’s important to think about external factors too. Exposure to toxins and allergens weaken your defense team. It’s important to address these factors as best as you can.
It’s not always easy to eliminate toxins, but remember each step you take makes a difference. Even imperfect progress is still progress. What’s one toxin you could give up today?
Your Unique Self
Everyone’s immune system is unique. From our genes, factors involving our birth and early childhood, overuse of antibiotics, toxin exposure, and more, it all effects us and makes us a unique individual. It makes our immune system unique as well.
When seeking healthcare from a holistic practitioner, a personalized approach is taken to address your unique self. What works for one person may not work for another person. Functional medicine and other holistic care is better suited to tailor strategies to your specific needs.
You yourself can read, talk with holistic professionals and observe our own health, habits and affects of nutrition, the environment and other factors to start making changes.
In this way you can see that immunity is not just about fighting off sickness but also about nurturing and supporting your body’s natural defenses. It’s like giving your personal army of soldiers the best gear, training, and strategies to keep you healthy and thriving. By taking care of your overall health, you’re helping your immune system be the best protector it can be.
Germ Theory Vs. Terrain Theory
A holistic medicine approach tends to look at the Terrain Theory more closely than conventional medicine does. Both are theories. Both have scientific evidence to support them. It’s critical in understanding the immune system and disease, to know about both theories.
The Germ theory was proposed by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. Treatment used by those who focus primarily on this theory focuses on targeting and elimination of the microorganism believed to be causing the illness.
The Terrain Theory, proposed by Antoine Béchamp and Claude Bernard, proposes that the internal environment or “terrain” of the body plays a critical role in health and disease.
Terrain Theory emphasizes maintaining a healthy internal environment or strengthening your immune system through lifestyle choices like proper nutrition, detoxification, stress reduction, and holistic approaches to health. It suggests that a strong and balanced terrain is less susceptible to disease.
My Wellness Basket focuses on the terrain theory. My Wellness Basket is a metaphorical basket of tools that will boost your terrain and lessening the fear of illness and disease.
How Can You Strengthen Your Immune System?
This is a big question. It can’t be answered in a short paragraph or even a single blog post. It’s really what this whole blog is about. Each post addresses this question.
My Wellness Basket is divided into several categories.
My “Nourishment” posts talk about nutrition, herbs, and ways to nourish your body, thus strengthening your immune system. It also talks about toxins. I try to write about not just what toxins to get rid of, but how to get rid of them in what I hope you to find simple ways.
My “Mind” posts talk about mindset, gratitude and everything that affects our minds and stress management. Yes, even these things affect our immune system!
My “Movement” posts talk about the importance of moving our bodies! There you will find tips on exercise and other types of movement. Even with our busy lifestyles, getting movement into our days is of vital importance for our health and well-being.
I also write about Rest. There are a lot of different types of rest. I write about sleep, how to improve our sleep, and I am slowly trying to address the other types of rest as well.
Finally I have a section on ‘Simplicity’. This is because I think our immune systems respond to simplicity. I know my mind does! Life is already overwhelming. My stress bucket is full. So I imagine yours is too. The changes we need to make to improve our immune systems are large. But they don’t have to be done overnight. Keep it simple. One of my motto’s here on the blog is that imperfect progress is still progress. Let me try to help make it simple for you.
Here’s 20 Things to BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM Today:
Some of you may want it easy, simple and to take your time. But you may also want a list of things to do NOW. So here’s a list of 20 things, keeping it simple, that you can do today to help boost your immune system. Start with this list. Then, keep reading more posts to discover more tools to add to your wellness basket. Subscribe today to see new posts as they are published and get in on the newsletter I’ll be adding soon!
Always be sure to drink half your body weight in ounce of water or herbal teas throughout the day. Stay hydrated.
Start each morning outside. Spend 5 minutes (more if you can) walking outside, breathing in the fresh air. Stretch, walk, and spread your toes in the soft grass if you are able.
Stretch and Walk
Throughout your day, take mini-breaks to stand, stretch and even take a short walk around your office building or home. Movement is important to physical health. You don’t have to run a marathon, but you do need to keep your lymphatic fluids moving.
Vitamin D3 is essential to your immune system. If you have time, read my post about it. Get outside when you can and supplement if your vitamin D test is showing levels below your goal of 50-80.
I know this isn’t easy. Even after avoiding all sugar and sweeteners for a year on the AIP (autoimmune paleo) diet while I was fighting Lyme disease naturally, sugar is still my nemesis.
If you really don’t think you can avoid it altogether, try cutting your intake in half. Don’t but sugary snacks. Switch out for healthier options. Add less sugar to your drinks. Do whatever you can to avoid or strictly limit sugar.
That said, don’t feel like you can’t have an occasional treat. Key word? OCCASIONAL. Food shouldn’t be your religion but it should be a priority.
Avoid Processed Foods
Believe me, I know making foods from scratch takes up time.
And most of you may say you can’t afford the time. But you (your health) can’t afford not to.
Keep it simple. If you are not used to cooking from scratch, start with one meal a week. Enjoy experimenting. But don’t try to make a huge 5 course french dinner. Just roast a chicken with some potatoes and a salad on the side. Keep it simple.
Go to Bed.
That’s right. Go to BED. Sleep is essential. Aim fo 7-8 hours a night. And start some better sleep habits like going to bed at a time that allows you to get that 7-8 hours. Get up at relatively the same time each morning.
Manage Your Stress
Woah. Easier said than done, right? But you CAN take steps to help.
Do something RIGHT NOW to help your stress. Take a minute to practice deep breathing. Stand up and stretch (yes, stretching can help your lymphatic system and your mindset). Think of 5 things your are grateful for.
Every little thing you do to place positivity in your brain helps you manage stress. If you can do better such as adding yoga, daily walking, seeing a therapist, reading positive books, taking a mini-vacation, etc., great. But remember, the little things add up too.
Add a clove of garlic to your dinner.
Got salad dressing? Add the garlic. Got rice? Add minced garlic? Roasting that chicken I mentioned above? Rub garlic over it before you put it in the oven.
And hey, about that clove? I tend to triple or quadruple (or MORE) whatever a recipe calls for with garlic.
Garlic helps lower cholesterol, balance blood sugars, fights fungus and colds, and more. It’s one of the most extensively researched and widely used of all plants. Feeling sick? Eat a raw clove.
Add more garlic to your life.
Eat A Rainbow
It’s true what they say. Choosing an assortment of fruits and vegetables is a superb strategy for making sure you are providing your body a broad array of nutrition. Make sure you are eating many colors every day.
Take a spoonful of elderberry syrup. Seriously. Every day. Elderberries are amazing. In fact, I just recently wrote a post about them.
Eat MORE Greens
Eat your salad. Or drink a smoothie. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help strengthen the immune system.
Feed Your Gut
Check out my post on gut health. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut contain beneficial probiotics that support a healthy gut microbiome, which plays a critical role in immune function.
I would much rather push everything in its natural form. But let’s face it. Not all of our foods even contain the same nutrients they did for our ancestors. And it is HARD to get all the nutrients.
That said, aim to take supplements that are in the most natural form.
Furthermore, it’s best to work with a holistic healthcare provider that can work with you to determine not only what vitamins and minerals you may be lacking but which supplements are best for you.
Drink Bone Broth
Not only is bone broth incredibally helpful in healing your gut, it is incredibly nourishing for your immune system.
Bone broth can be made easily in the instant pot with just an organic chicken, water and apple cider vinegar (I put mine on manual for 2 hours).
Determined by what I have on hand, I add a variety of various nutrients to the liquid before turning it on: onions, garlic, seaweed, nettle, codonopsis, mushrooms (a slice of dried reishi is my usual), Real Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, celery, carrots…the list goes on!
This even goes for the introverted moms like me.
I’m not saying go out with friends every day or answer yes to al the social events. But include friends in your life. Maintain contact with your closest family and friends through texts, the occasional phone call or coffee meetup.
In other words, being in contact with others affects your immune system in a POSITIVE way .
There’s a connection between our connectedness to others and our immune system. A 2016 study done at the University of Virginia actually suggests that socializing can activate the immune system. Don’t live in a bubble.
Consider Colostrum. This is one I want to add back into my own health habits. I just learned about the health benefits of colostrum (beyond breastfeeding) over the last two years. Colostrum, the first ‘milk’ from nursing mammals is a rich source of protective antibodies and anti-inflammatory substances.
There’s several companies offering this product as a powder that’s made from grass-fed cows, goats or other mammals. When I make my next purchase it will be from Anovite (I am not affiliated with this company). I have several friends who absolutely rave at the difference it has made for them.
Maintain good dental hygiene. Did you know there’s a link between dental health and your immune system?
Your mouth is the entrance to your body. When you have dental problems, you experience effects in other body systems as well. Some dental problems can affect the digestive system, the cardiovascular system and others. Keeping up with regular brushing, flossing, oil pulling, and dental cleanings can all play a part in keeping your immune system strong.
Protect Your Skin
Remember that your skin is the organ that acts as a barrier between the outside world with all of its toxins and your body. Maintaining healthy skin helps your immune system. Use toxin free soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, and only natural forms of sun and insect protection. Use a natural moisturizer. See my post on Shea Butter here.
Enjoy your life.
I wouldn’t advise “enjoying life” in ways that are dangerous or unhealthy. But do enjoy your life.
Take walks. Take a nap. Play music loudly. Go on vacation. Buy that new book. Watch a movie. Watch the sunset. Spend time outdoors. Walk barefoot. See the mountains. See the ocean. Go dancing. Go hiking. Call a friend. Go out for dinner. Drink a glass of wine. Play a game of Mario Kart. Eat a slice of cake.
All of these things are, at least somewhat, healthy if taken in moderation and balanced with all of the things I listed above and not in opposition to your individual needs and values.
Having a healthy immune system is important to your wellness, not to mention the ability to enjoy your life. Being sick all the time is not fun.
Your immune system needs to be taken care of and needs attended to daily. Give it all the nutrients, sleep, exercise and positivity it needs and it will be there for you – keeping you well.
There are many steps to having an immune system, but hopefully these 20 are an easy way for you to start you on your way. Begin with at least one or two of these steps to start making changes to boost your immune system today.
Please remember: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare provider. This post, as are all others on My Wellness Basket, are for educational purposes only. Please see my disclaimer page.